College Football Rumors: Lane Kiffin’s First Recruit At Florida Atlantic Is Former Florida State QB De’Andre Johnson

On Monday, the Florida Atlantic University Owls announced the hiring of Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin as the school’s new head football coach. Kiffin will take over for Charlie Partridge, who was fired after three consecutive 3-9 seasons for FAU after being hired away from Arkansas where he was the defensive line coach.

This will be Kiffin’s fourth career head coaching gig and his first since 2013 when he got fired by the USC Trojans four games in the season. Prior to his four seasons in Southern California, Lane was the head coach at the University of Tennessee during the 2009 season and coached the Oakland Raiders for two seasons in 2007-08.

On January 10, Kiffin accepted the job of offensive coordinator with the Alabama Crimson Tide. In three seasons in Tuscaloosa, Lane helped lead the Crimson Tide to a 39-3 record, which includes reaching the College Football Playoff in all three seasons and winning the 2015 College Football Playoff Championship.

This year might be the best coaching job Kiffin’s ever done as he’s taken a true freshman quarterback in Jalen Hurts and put together the No. 26 offense in the country in terms of yards per game at 471. Even better, the Crimson Tide rank 14th in the country in rushing yards per game at 245 and 13th in points per game at 40.5.

While Kiffin is a heck of an offensive coach with a solid scheme, it’s impossible to win at any level without talented players. Lane’s biggest obstacle at Florida Atlantic will be to recruit talent. The Owls don’t exactly have a history like Alabama, which means Kiffin’s going to have sell recruits on playing time, his system, and the area, as opposed to just using tradition and the prospect of playing at the next level like at Alabama.

On Wednesday, which happens to be Junior College National Signing Day, Lane Kiffin got himself a highly-touted prospect as Eastern Mississippi Community College quarterback De’Andre Johnson signed with the Florida Atlantic Owls, according to 247 Sports. In 11 games at EMCC this season, Johnson completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 2,646 yards with 26 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He also added 834 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

If Johnson’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he used to play at Florida State before being dismissed from the team after video reached social media of De’Andre allegedly striking a woman in a bar. He was charged with misdemeanor battery before agreeing to a plea deal in December of 2015, according to FOX Sports.

Johnson was named Mr. Football for Florida high school sports in 2014 before committing to the Seminoles. After getting dismissed from the program, De’Andre transferred to EMCC in 2015 but didn’t play football. Instead, he decided to take a break from the game while getting things figured out and then joined the team prior to the 2016 season.

Johnson’s quarterbacks coach at EMCC was former West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Clint Trickett, and Clint’s brother, Travis, is the current offensive coordinator for Florida Atlantic. It’s unclear if that had a factor in Johnson’s decision in choosing the Owls or even if Kiffin has decided to keep Trickett on staff or bring in his own guy.

With the No. 2 pro-style JUCO quarterback headed to Boca Raton, it would seem Lane Kiffin is on the right track to leading the Florida Atlantic Owls to a quick turnaround in Conference USA.

[Featured Image by Stacy Revere/Getty Images]